The McNamara Case and the Labor Movement
by Eugene V. Debs
Written December 8, 1911. Dated based on Debs' mention of a wire service story published on that day.
Published in International Socialist Review, vol. 12, no. 7 (Jan. 1912), pp. 397-401.
In the aftermath of the guilty plea of John and Jim McNamara in the October 1910 bombing of the Los Angeles Times building, Socialist Party leader Gene Debs offers his assessment of the affair. Debs is scornful of Samuel Gompers and the American Federation of Labor for cravenly rushing to join the capitalists in condemning the activities of the McNamara brothers in an effort to save face before the bourgeois world.
"The acts to which the McNamaras have confessed and for which they are now in prison I do not approve, nor does any other Socialist," Debs declares, adding "I am not caring what the capitalist class think of me and I am not tempering my judgment or shaping my acts to meet their favor."
Debs identifies the McNamaras as committed participants in the Gompers craft union establishment -- Democratic Party voters, Catholic church members, and supporters of pure-and-simple trade unionism. Still, rather than rushing to judgment, Debs urges sympathetic understanding and discrete silence in recognition that the McNamaras were pushed into violence by the ethical code of capitalism and the desperate logic of craft unionism within that system.
Debs notes recent instances of capitalist violence against working class and the hypocritical way this bloodshed had been ignored. He also demands recognition of the lawless kidnapping of the McNamaras in their present case. Debs asserts that "If the McNamara case teaches us anything it is that we must organize along both economic and political lines, that we must unite in the same union and fight together, and in the same party and vote together, and stick unflinchingly to that program..."
Debs intimates the Times bombing was part of an organized conspiracy since it was extremist anti-union forces who had the most to gain from the affair.
Transcribed and footnoted by Tim Davenport for 1000 Flowers Publishing, Corvallis, OR, March 2012.
Uploaded to Archive.org by Tim Davenport on March 4, 2012.
Non-commercial reproduction permitted.